What if Life Wasn’t S.A.D?

psalm121

It’s confession time and I am sharing with you one of my most closely guarded, hidden secrets.

In fact, it is so well guarded that people laugh out loud when they hear it.

“Heidi, seriously, you shouldn’t be so dramatic. I mean, look at what you put on Facebook and you have a blog for Pete’s sake!! You stand up in front of people and speak publicly, play music, teach classes.  How in the world can you say you are an introvert much less someone who struggles with an often-crippling phobia of social situations? You are totally an extrovert having an off day.”

Ha ha ha…

Unless you live with me and see the fall out when I push too hard and do too much. I know it’s hard to recognize what I am saying, even for those who know me well.

Yet, for the husband holding my hand in a crowded room because he knows I’m 10 seconds away from hyperventilating or the boys telling their friends that this isn’t a good time to come over, there’s not so much laughter. They see it easily.

A phobia is often defined as “an irrational or extreme fear or aversion to something.” For the millions of us who live with a phobia, we understand it is not logical, reasonable, or even based in reality which is easily understood by those who don’t see life through this lens.

Your inability to understand doesn’t make it any less real.

Under the umbrella of phobias, a whole range of mental disorders and quirks fall all haphazardly.  Social Anxiety Disorder, one of the most common phobias experienced in America today, is the ball and chain I have carried every day of my life for the past 20+ years.

For those of us who wrestle or for those who don’t wrestle at all, sometimes this battle is obvious and results in declined invitations, turned off phones, and unanswered door bells. Other times it is completely invisible while we walk around looking “normal” but knowing that this exertion, this sacrifice, will cost us dearly.

I can’t tell you how many times I have collapsed on the couch, exhausted after having had a good time, but having battled in my mind the entire time.  The unrelenting intensity of second-guessing performance, competence, value, even after having done a good thing, becomes a weight beyond carrying any further.

I live in a constant skirmish of conflicting wills.  Choosing between staying home, within the arms of a safe little family, or stepping foot outside the door to engage a world where people live and breathe in unpredictable, often critical, unknown, and, frankly, terrifying blends of scenarios capable of shattering this carefully constructed state of being.

No, I cannot always “power my way through” or “act like it doesn’t exist”.  For the times I can, it is never for very long.

If I have done “powered through” for you, consider it one of the highest compliments I can pay.

Does this mean that I don’t like being with people?  Does this mean that I am a sweaty mess when I do venture outside? Does this mean I hate the demands of a busy life full of wonderful, confusing, and beautiful faces?

No.

Sometimes it means that I sit in my car for a while before going into the grocery store and while I evaluate how to respond to the possible interaction with the known and the unknown or the people falling somewhere in the middle.

I don’t always answer my phone when the weight of having any conversation is more than I can handle, at the moment.

Often, ok, most of the time, I need to be the 3-hour friend not the weekend away friend.

I will, more than likely, not want to carpool because having an escape route is imperative to even being able to convince myself to come.

“Although they recognize that the fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder feel powerless against their anxiety. “ Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

For example:

After having spent an hour or so writing out a menu for the week and then the grocery list that went with it, I freshened my lip-gloss, straightened the cute new scarf, and grabbed my purse. I headed out the door; ready to brave the various stores on my list.

On the short drive to the first destination, I mentally rehearse the scenarios I could find myself in:  What if there is someone there I know?  Will I hit another aisle or engage?  Do I have time? Do I look ok?  Can I find it in myself to drum up the mental fortitude to engage someone? What if it is ******?  We have history, so maybe, I’ll just keep my eyes open for that person and be ready to duck.  I should have worn a hat.  People don’t recognize me that often when I have a hat… I should have brought the boys.  They keep me occupied.

My heart rate accelerates, while my analytical mind spins scenario after scenario where things end badly, or conversations go well, or there is some fine-intentioned friend who keeps me talking and corners me, back to the wall, for an hour or more.

I pull into the lot and park. My mind is racing so fast I sit in the driver’s seat with my head back against the seat and pause for a full 5 minutes before turning the car off and, breathing deeply, perhaps flexing my hands to release some built up tension, step out of my quiet space and into the chaotic world around me.

It never stops.   It is always there.

When I meet a stranger, when I see friends in the distance.  When the most lovely, kind woman in the world says, “Let’s have coffee. I want to get to know you!” and suddenly, feelings of an irrational panic, fight or flight, response well up inside as I try to keep my composure.

Yes, there are medications I can take, and frankly, there are some I do take to help me think more clearly and not be so overwhelmed by the gerbils racing on the wheels in my mind.

I pray often, and desperately, and quietly, and deliberately.

Thankfully, most of the time, it helps. A lot.

For the times it doesn’t, there is no conversation we could have that I have not had with myself, in a slightly schizoid and third-personesque way.   I am absolutely convinced that this is irrational, embarrassing, and, perversely, totally inescapable state of being.

Yet, it is the world in which I live.

So, where is faith in the middle of this?  Where do I find hope and strength?

I lift up my eyes to the hills.From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;  he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in  from this time forth and forevermore.

 Psalm 121: 1-3, 7-8

For God is good, in the middle of my weakness and my brokenness.  He has given me grace and compassion for others that I would not otherwise have been given the capability of experiencing.

It isn’t in the things I do well where I have found God’s hand there to hold so tightly. It is in my dark hours, the empty spaces of being spent beyond reason and a bottomless need beyond measure, where I find the One who keeps my life.

When I am irrational, unreasonable, and filled with fear, He comforts me.

Somehow, that is enough for today.

 

FMF – See

Five Minute Friday

See…

Eyes wide open, my heart beat freely in the confines of this secret, hidden place.  A safe, quiet, tiny piece of my world where we have danced freely, openly, with a small crowd of strangers who became more and more familiar until some were transformed to friends and allies.

Flesh and bone even.  Over steaming cups of coffee in quaint coffee shops.

These friends could see more than simply words or the pictures.   Beyond the imagery of stories carefully unwrapped and arranged artfully in black and white on a scrolling page, they could see me in an unraveled tapestry of issues in need of resolution. The face behind a facade of careful adjustments.

We shared, we thought, we lived, we saw one another in the passing seconds between blinks.

Comfortably we existed here. For years.

Then,  suddenly, the floodgates opened!

Now, there are so many eyes.  So many thoughts.  Such a cacophony of voices echoed across my screen that my heart froze and the words hung, on the tips of my fingers, over black keys while the increasing pressure to become, to produce, to inspire, to create pounded against me on every side.

I sat still. Waiting.  Watching.  Overwhelmed.

Until story after story, insights and contradictions, broken hearts, impassioned declarations, and choices defended blended into a single, repeating rhythm.

This heartbeat of thousands, sharing with me a tender place of kindness,  a hunger for accountability, and a glimmer, however faint, of hope was found in the compassion of strangers, becoming familiar, even friends.

Until I could see.

You.

Linked up with Lisa Jo Baker @ Five Minute Friday

Our most important requirement for participation: There’s really only one absolute, no ifs, ands or buts about it Five Minute Friday rule: you must visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community. – See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/#sthash.3G59r0oX.dpuf

Dancing In A Minefield

It seems we often share only the life within the space between chaos.

We eagerly offer, to our society of voyeuristic observers,  deceptively smooth spaces where no one sees the pile of issues, unsorted for days, hiding beyond the frame of an Instagramed picture.

We carefully share the pretty, acceptable parts of ourselves, while an un-forecast, unforeseen, swirling, white-out blizzard of heartache, struggle, and decision making explodes around us.  We have landed on a mine set by an enemy who desires nothing but the destruction of our souls and the fabric of our families.

None of the books I read on life, marriage, or parenting, all those years ago, prepared me for the conversations we’ve had through the years.   No brilliant expert warned me about the tiredness of marriage.   The sameness of self and spouse falling into a sense of complacency.  Until…

The years imploded for lack of a strong center and a disaster was revealed that only a wise, kind God could repair.

Boom!!!

No one told me a spiritual leader, a pastor, a friend, a brother, could turn and, in a vicious series of events, destroy a relationship years in the building. A cascade of debris, suspiciously resembling the capability of trust and the investment of earnest affection, landed in a heap around motionless feet frozen in shock and disbelief.

No one told me about these conversations… These issues… These growing pains…

There have been jarrings so strong they rattle confidence and fray an already unraveling sense of normalcy until life reverberates like war drums, deafening us.

Only one thing still echoes through the years.  That small voice reminding me that this chaos is where the beauty comes from ashes, where hope springs eternal,  where light shines even all the more brightly.  We are not destroyed or abandoned.

We have a Hope.  A Redeemer.   A Deliverer.

That is what sustains us, even now.  This is what raises tired eyes and, instead of the cautious tread of weary feet on rubble strewn paths, we know One who gives us a greater future than merely trudging through this minefield.

We belong to the One who gives us courage to dance.

In spite of the mines and without fear.

dancing in the minefield

A Beautiful Truth About An Ugly Thing

Think of the ugliest, darkest, most chilling thing you can imagine.  Hold it firmly in the center of your vision and don’t let go.   Wrap your mental fingers around it until they freeze in place and no amount of prying can get you loose again.

Now visualize hanging over an exquisitely beautiful garden.  But you can’t let go of this thing you hold so you can be IN the garden.  You are an observer.  An outsider.

The Thing is a ledge and beyond it lie despair and hopelessness resonating within a void where no good thing can live.

Everyone around you thrives in the garden.  They smell flowers, walk between manicured hedges, taste sweet berries ripening on curling vines while your muscles scream for relief and, concentrating on lifting a finger at a time, you strain your soul to release this thing so you too can land among flower beds and enjoy the paths entwining lives.  As one finger loosens, the possibility of freedom and a new beginning peeks around the corner of a broken, battered soul.

“Will it hurt when I land?”

“How damaged will I be by the blight  of which I have been a part for so long?”

“Surely those who walk in all this loveliness wouldn’t want me to shadow their experience with this ugliness.”

“Who would I be without the darkness?”

“How can I live in constant light?”

“They will see me as I am and know I am unworthy.”

One after another, a spinning cacophony of thoughts cast a web of fear keeping us holding tightly to that hated, but familiar, ledge.

Not quite in the darkness, never fully in the light.

Loved ones call you to come down off the ledge, well intentioned voices give well-intentioned advice, and you smile, nodding, and promise to try…

And yet… You can’t move.

You are stuck in this place that doesn’t make sense to you much less anyone else.  But it has become as much a part of your identity as the color of your eyes, the size of your shoes, the dreams and passion that beckon from a place beyond either darkness or beauty.

This is depression.  Anxiety.  Recovery. 

If you haven’t lived it, you might think me melodramatic.

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If you have? You understand when I say it has been the truth of my life for almost as long as I can remember.

I’ve become old, familiar friends with a sluggish, sloth-like emotional stagnation keeping me firmly fixated on those things that protect the fragility of my reality even while brilliance, life, joy, and beauty explode in a breathtaking fireworks display of marriage, family, church fellowship, and spiritual personal discovery.

Is this an oxymoron?  Can a personality co-exist in two realities and not be vacant in one or vapid in the other?

I don’t know how it all works. I just know it is a phenomenon I am not alone in experiencing.    There are times when the darkness is stronger than the ambrosia scented garden.  In flashes of brilliance, the light overwhelms encroaching fingers of despair and a dusky silhouette approximating freedom can emerge for a season, a day, a moment.

Until I retreat from the Unsafe, the Frightening, the Abuser… I find a safe, dark corner and hold my own trembling hands in fear.   A busy mind devoted to every conceivable escape route hungers for  solitude and safety.

God is faithful to be where I am.  Often, it seems, He sits comfortably on the ledge and soothes me while I struggle to trust, to fall, to believe. He doesn’t seem to mind when my obsessions become so much mental litter cluttering the landscape.

Not willing to leave me alone in the dark, He gives so much more than a flickering candle.  He illuminates the softly tender parts of me. Those which have lain long dormant in whispered anticipation of healing and wholeness.

My pinkie lifts.  Sometimes a whole hand is free.  I look into the garden more often now than the darkness.

Still unsure of who I am becoming but thankful I have a chance to try, I close my eyes and breath deeply.

 “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
― Plato

 

Five Ways To Touch God

God is real

“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.”
― C.S. LewisThe Silver Chair

 

Is God so real to our existence that all around becomes pale and shadowy in comparison?

Or have we reduced our faith so that He, instead, looms opaque and unknowable in the distance, a powerless figurehead incapable of relating or redeeming us from the all too real troubles whether self-imposed or unfairly leveled at our unguarded hearts.

How does one relate to the Invisible God who delights in hiding, like a cosmic game of Hide & Seek, His mysteries to see who will care enough to go treasure hunting.

This Truth has been a constant battle as I rely heavily on reasonable truths, clear parameters, and the simple, quantifiable, reliability of self-determination.

But, my clenched fists, Heidi-based faith, does tend to put a great deal of pressure on ME to provide the strength to navigate the curious inconsistencies of life.

I’m not built for that kind of weight.  It breaks me.

The stress appears slowly, at first, with small fractures in composure, is followed by entire pieces of my personality falling into disarray,and has the tendency to result in a near complete collapse of my carefully constructed identity.

Knowing that track record, it seems the very definition of insanity to hold on, white knuckles cracking, teeth grinding, knowing what my belief system brings in the end.

How does God make Himself real to us?

  1. Find God in His own Words.  When I read Him, consistently, I hear His voice more clearly.
  2. Beauty draws us toward the Divine.  Spending less time on chaos and more time contemplating the elegance of nature and the wild, gloriousness of the creativity of my own gifts or the expression of others draws us out of self-imposed neutrality.  Music. Art. Dance. Design. Poetry. Literature.  Look for beauty.  It’s not hard to find when you have trained your eye to seek it.   
  3. Look for those more needy than yourself.  It is an emulation of the heart of God to reach out to those who struggle and offer them, from richness or lack, the gift of compassion and help.  This expands our vision from a soul-killing rabbit hole of self-absorption and allows us to see a horizon filled with opportunities.
  4.  Be still.  Really still.  And breathe. Sometimes, many times, life is beyond my ability to manage.   So I need to stop all my doing, searching, longing, hoping, dreaming, observing, analyzing…  I relearn to just be still.   Let the quietness wash over the empty space.  God always shows up.  And He’s ok with silence.
  5. Remember the times He spoke, read the journals you wrote, re-tell the stories of miracles and provision.  When all else fails, remember.  Don’t let the fabric of your story be forgotten.  It is the warp and weft of who you are.   God’s fingerprints, silver and gold threads, are woven carefully throughout the pain and the joy, the hope and the depression, where a those yesterdays are carefully paving all way for tomorrow

How do you know God is real?

You are.   You exist. You are very real. That is the first proof you need.

Everything else falls into place once you can see yourself through the eyes of One who loves you.

FMF-Truth

Five Minute Friday

Truth is….

Risky.  Like “I love you” & “You hurt me” & “I’m sorry” and “I choose to forgive and start over” all wrapped up into one giant ball of nervous and amazing, hope and regret.

Freedom.  No more lies to remember, no more stories to convince, rationalizations to defend.  There is a rich peace that comes from looking forward without fear of the convoluted stories of the past overtaking your well-intentioned, or self-serving masks of pretense.

You may tremble, standing naked and unashamed, while the world looks on and you look heavenward.

You might not see the Glory of God covering you, but I guarantee He does.

Truth is…

Staring down to the bottom of a fresh prescription and realizing there is no greater lie than the one that says you don’t need help and you can manage on your own.    When you are obviously drowning…  When it feels better to just sink to the bottom than to nervously twist your ring and speak across a rugged coffee table to a stranger you hope you can trust. It hurts to begin exposing the junk drawer of your life’s history.

Truth is…

Reveling in the beauty of our mosaic of life experiences. Welcoming the changes and the brilliance of multi-faceted pieces as much as valuing the thick, scarring putty that holds it all together.  You are who you are because of the wounds and the battle cries, the triumph and the tears, the laughter and the numbing, freezing fear.

Truth is…

We aren’t really living until we live where Truth is.

 

 

Ashtrays & Alabaster Jars

You know that one story?

The  sinful woman who splashed her life’s savings onto the head of the only One who could take her hand and lift her out of a pit of self-loathing, societal expectation, and broken dreams?

anointing oil (1).jpgSunlight filtered through the windows, dust motes dancing on a light breeze, an idyllic setting were it not for the horrified gasps and thundering silence.  The intoxicating and familiar sweet, spicy, musky fragrance permeated unbelieving senses as those good people tried to reconcile the scents of worship with her extravagant display.  She poured out her only treasure, destroyed the value of a priceless jar where the ebb and flow of cream and caramel swirls now stopped, abruptly jagged, where the seal had been broken.

The scent of spikenard, reminiscent of clouds of incense billowing near the altar in their most Holy Temple warred within their cultural sensitivities and clear codes of righteousness as they sat, stunned, before the image of their Savior being touched by one such as she.

Confusion turns to heated dialogue.  Dialogue intensifies to emotional outrage. Outrage solidifies to an anger of the most insidious variety.

Self-righteous anger. In defense of what must be held dear and kept constant.  For surely, this holy man whom they followed could see the jeopardy He had put them all into by His quiet acceptance of….

Her.

The broken, defiled woman who dared to disturb the comfort and sanctity of their holy convocation.

Why would she dare to step foot inside?  Did the women of the household press themselves to the wall, covering shocked faces with head scarves and clean hands, as she passed for fear her uncleanness would taint them?  Did the servants whisper?   Did she push her way, determined,  through the children gathered at His knee until, finally, she could give Him the treasure she had kept safe for all those years?

Was it hope or desperation that drew her?   Perhaps it was the kindness of a God made Flesh who caressed the cheek of lepers and who wept over a city that had ceased to recognize Him?  Perhaps she watched from the edges of the crowd, while those earnest followers clustered near, until one day He met her gaze and smiled. Perhaps she knew He knew all she had been, all she had done, and He still smiled at her.

Was it simply that she had this one thing to give.  One single gift.   He was the only One who was worth the price.

Is it possible she knew He was the only one who would receive her only gift…

I am certain she trembled as, standing over Him, knowing she was again the subject of speculation, outrage, and gossip, she dared the unthinkable.

Could He be trusted?  Had that smile, those words, those eyes been saying, to her, what she thought they were saying?

Tensions and tempers rose as the voices began to rumble through that room. How could she have known what His reply would be to these righteous men, these moral and good women? What could be said to silence their accusations and disdain?

“She poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. Yes! I tell you that throughout the whole world, wherever this Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told in her memory.”

That was it.

She was no longer an ashtray of discarded hopes. She became an alabaster jar welling up with priceless fragrance.

She had been redeemed.

There is a story here for all of us whether we are the broken woman, the self-righteous disciple,or the narrator of someone else’s pain.

The story is simple.   We have a Redeemer who sees our value not in the things we bring but in our courage to seek and find Him.   We have a Kind Savior who will welcome us into a room we would rather avoid.  We have a Defender when those around us would have other plans for our gift.

And, most importantly, despite what the whispers might say…

You belong to the Man with the kind eyes who doesn’t shy away from sickness, disease, hopelessness, and pain.

Yes, friend, we belong.

Life is Ministry

A wise man once said, “The only constant in life is change.

Contractions of birth once thrust us into this world blinded while the first burst of oxygen to our tiny lungs brought screams of shock at this rude awakening.

We liked being right where we were. Thankyouverymuch.

Ministry is like that. It happens when we aren’t ready for change or the responsibility.  Even when we think we might be after reading all the right books and taking all the right classes.

In the miracle of a moment, spiritual life is breathed and the newly alive clamor for our attention.babyhandslifeisministry.jpg

There is LIFE to be lived!  Freshly born, daily transformations, the passage from one season to the next.

Those of us who are older walk through the newness of life in Christ tending the nursery.  Sincerely we love the babies with their Divinely awakened sense of wonder at the love of a Savior. Answering the simplest questions with ease, which almost appears to be a super power to the young in their faith, we feel the tenderness of the Lord, and together we revel in the beauty of it all.

Oh, friend, it is so very easy to pretend they can stay in the nursery and we can stay in a position of some sort of spiritualized, idolized Mary Poppins.

But, those sweetly earnest babies grow and demand more and more from us. Those once easy answers become muddled in the messiness of life.  Toddlers are heavy to carry and our strength and our very human patience is stretched at the incessant challenge and questioning of  “Why???”….toddler.jpg

Surely this isn’t what God meant when He said to “go and make disciples”.  Surely He must have meant a quiet retreat center where our spirits resonate in harmony with the beauty of God’s perfection.

Surely…

As certain as I am that we could not stay in our mother’s womb until we were “ready” for the world, I am also certain that the separation of our identities, as those younger in the faith grow, happens on a Divine timetable.

At two years, my oldest son said only a few words.  Beatific smiles and gales of laughter abounded as his chubby hands signed all his needs and wants.  There was plenty of noise but very few words.  From the blurting of “Papa!” at 9 months he’d remained relatively silent.

Until his brother was born….

The dam burst, and, for the past 13 years he has grown in his expression of inner thoughts and observations.

He was a glorious child and I couldn’t have enjoyed that sweetness of his smiles, laughter and the enthusiastic rubbing of his chest to ask “Please” any more than I did.  But it would be awkward for that same behavior to come from the man-child with a faux hawk and size 12 EEE sneakers who is exploring the freedoms that come with maturing.

It is the privilege of those who minister to see those little birds, once wide mouthed and begging to be fed, grow up and fly beyond us.

It is our responsibility to do what we can to make sure that flight happens and not hold them so tightly they are afraid to take to the air.

In just a moment they are gone.  They’ve walked into an independent faith.

It feels wrong.

But it is right.

And it is righteous.

We are shocked out of our comfort. We are left gasping for breath.

“God, we weren’t ready! How will we know we’ve done enough?  What if they fall?  What if we aren’t there to catch them? “

He is always faithful and gracious to reply.  Always.  For while we were given the opportunity to love them…

They were first His children.

We still are.

So we live again.  Repeating this ancient cycle of life and praying that our service can be more than time, words, effort, exhaustion but also inspiration, dedication, joy shared.

A Savior worshipped. 

Through this ministry life.

fly.jpgLike this? It is part five in a series entitled “The Business of Ministry”.   Go here to get started at the beginning and then search for “MINISTRY” in the search box for the rest.

*Creative license:  I know that is a hawk.  I like the picture.  Roll with it. 🙂

Monday Morning Meditation – Choosing Joy

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James, the book of James, has so often been the older brother I seek for advice when life gets sketchy.  I will honestly confess that I don’t always listen to him, but I do love the simplicity of his words.  The integrity of his example.   The genuineness of his message.  When James says to me, “Consider it pure joy…”  I look at the mountains in my life and remember his.  He walked with the Messiah, side by side. His half-brother, the incarnate God.

A life and legacy that had such a price. One that he paid. WIth beatings and persecution. With prayers and supplications. With wandering and arguing believers looking to him for peace making, for guidance, for direction.

It was James who took Paul and met with him after he returned to Jerusalem all those years after the road to Damascus.  Only James who met with the man who would change nations at the beginning of a ministry while the church in Jerusalem quaked in fear of the man who had persecuted and killed so many brothers and sisters.

James.  My older brother speaking, strong and kind, from eons past.   It is his voice asking me to consider… To “count” in the King James.

Not to number or to evaluate.  This is not the analytical exercise of pondering what the trial is and how we ought to value it.

No.  This consider? This count? Is to lead, to guide, to direct, to take over the control.

It is hēgeomai in the Greek:  to command.

So… Let’s read that again.

Command it all joy, my brethren, whenever you face many kinds of trials…”

Not every trial is joyful.  Not every circumstance destined to end in bliss.

But I will lead, guide, direct this life by choosing joy. This pure joy.  Which can only come from the Master’s hand.

I joined up over at Monday Morning Meditations for this exercise in choosing joy!   Go over there and see what the other folks are saying about the Word.

Monday Morning Meditation Isaiah 40:11

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He is like… And He comes… Feeding, gathering, carrying, gently leading.   The One who counts the oceans by handfuls and spans the sky with a ruler.  The One who knows the measure of dust, puts mountains on scales, and balances the hills.

The words tell us a few things:

First, He has many attributes, many skills, many gifts.  But who is He?

A shepherd.  Feeding, gathering, carrying, gently leading the mother sheep.

And that resonates in my mother’s heart on this day after Mother’s Day with all of its pageantry and brunches, flowers and gifts.  Underneath all of it…

He cradles the lambs tenderly against His chest and gently leads the mother sheep…

That’s me.

He carries my lambs, His lambs,  and shows me in sweet kindness where I should go.

It was a bright summer morning and I was overwhelmed with one, resounding, echoing thought…

“How can I know that my boys will follow Christ?  How can I insure this legacy of faith we are building to invest into our children?”

They were little, 6 and 8, and couldn’t care less about such big ideas.   But my heart ached for some kind of confidence that I could let go of this anxiety that welled up in me.  What are the odds?  What are the statistics?

For Christian children to leave their parent’s home and maintain their faith is becoming an anomaly, not the norm.  And I pondered my own journey and the struggles within our family trees until fear gripped my heart.

“Please God, keep them!”, I whispered over the pile of soapy dishes while Mr. Rogers sang of fish and friendship in the living room. In that desperate moment, the quietest voice whispered to my  heart… With truth and conviction I have held onto these words as one would harbor a precious jewel.

“I am the perfect Father and yet, My children wander.  Trust Me with your children. Teach them of Me.  Trust Me to keep them.”

The anxiety melted off like mist, my shoulders straightened, and we moved forward from that day.  Peace filled my heart for I had been gently led while the Good Shepherd cradled my lambs on His chest.

Linking up with Girl Meets Paper for Monday Morning Meditation